Holiness and Health
Holiness and Health
Zac Poonen | 5 Aug 2018
Leviticus is a book that speaks of the Holiness of God. It’s a book that has holiness as its main theme throughout. Holiness is a word a lot of believers are afraid of. But we must boldly proclaim the standards of God’s Word – for they are all realistic and attainable. Holiness is the very nature of God. The Spirit God gives us is a Holy Spirit. When Isaiah got a vision of God, he saw Him in His Holiness and saw himself as an unclean man.
Holiness is like health. How many of you are afraid to hear messages on being perfectly healthy? Are we afraid of good health? No. Then why should we be afraid of perfect health in our spirit – which is more important than health for our body? Sin is like sickness. We see that in Leviticus. The Lord gives rules here concerning holiness and concerning health. The two are similar - one is for the spirit and one is for the body. Holiness for the body is what we call health. Health for the spirit and soul is what we call holiness.
So we need to get rid of this fear of holiness. And we must come to the place where we desire total holiness more than we desire total health. Just like we want to be totally free of all sickness in our bodies, we must want to be totally free of all sin that defiles us. We must not tolerate sin any more than we tolerate sickness. To tolerate dirty thoughts is like tolerating tuberculosis or leprosy. To tolerate anger by justifying ourselves saying, “That’s my weakness or that’s my temperament” and thus to permit it in our lives, is like making allowance for AIDS or syphilis in our body. Sin and sickness are very similar.
For example, in Leviticus, God tells the Israelites how to deal with a person having leprosy and similar skin diseases. That is a type of sin in this book and the laws given here relate to how to deal with sin. The words ‘holiness’ and ‘holy’ appear in this book nearly 100 times, emphasizing that that is the main theme of this book. A book of 27 chapters where holiness is mentioned 100 times must certainly be an important book.
Many chapters in Leviticus deal with laws on holiness and health. All of these show God’s intense interest in the smallest little details of a person’s life. We may imagine that God is not interested in the small details of our lives. But I find in the book of Leviticus that God is interested in every little detail. The Israelites were told here, what to do even if a lizard fell into a cooking pot. The earthenware pot into which the lizard fell should be destroyed and none of the food in it should be eaten, for it may produce an infection and bring death. (Leviticus 11:33). God also gave them instructions on bathing, when they were defiled in some way – they were to bathe in running water (Leviticus 15:13). He also told them to wash their clothes when they were defiled (Leviticus 15:5, 7, 11 and Chapter 17 also). These are just two examples of the care that God has for His people. Did you ever imagine that God could be so interested in the food you eat and in your cleanliness – in your bathing habits and in your washing your clothes regularly; I am excited to read such things. Who said that the book of Leviticus was boring?
This book also has teaching on sexual purity and a number of other interesting subjects. In Leviticus 10:8–11, God told Aaron, “Don’t ever drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons when you come into the tent of meeting so that you will not die. That’s how you make a distinction between the holy and the profane so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken.” God was telling the leaders that they should not consume anything that would pollute their bodies. As leaders, they had to be exemplary in their conduct.
In Leviticus 11 God told them about the animals that were clean and those that were unclean, the type of animals they could eat, and the type of animals they should not eat. What I learn from this passage is that God in heaven is interested even in our eating habits – that we have healthy food habits. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God”. The essential message in Leviticus concerning eating and drinking is: “Don’t eat or drink anything that is not good for your body.” I am sure that the Lord would have a lot to say to His children about the junk food that many eat and drink today!
There are rules for hygiene too, as for example, in Leviticus 11:33: “If an animal dies and falls into a clay pot, everything in that pot is defiled, and the pot must be smashed,” and “If water used to cleanse an unclean object touches any food, all of that food is defiled” (Leviticus 11:34). He is telling the Israelites here to have hygienic habits and a clean lifestyle. We can’t disobey the rules of health and then pray when we are sick, “Lord, please heal me.” That is foolishness. If you disobey the laws of hygiene that God has made, you have no-one to blame but yourself when you fall sick. God said in Exodus 15:26. “If you obey My laws, then I will be your Healer.” God wants to give us the gift of health more than healing! But we must obey His laws for our body. In Leviticus 11:44, we read, “I am the Lord Your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am holy.” This is the main theme of the book of Leviticus – and this verse comes right in the middle of the book.
Peter quotes this verse in 1 Peter 1:16, “We are to be holy, because the One who called us is holy.”
Holiness and cleanliness are two of the main themes of Leviticus.